SHARENE WEAVER

Popular Mechanics (South Africa) - - Great New Stuff -

AGE: 44 WORKED AS: Ma­te­rial spe­cial­ist and team leader

I was at UTEC for 19 years, 15 as a ma­te­rial spe­cial­ist. I was over be­ing in the man­u­fac­tur­ing work. I wanted to switch gears, so that’s when I started go­ing to school. I didn’t do it be­cause of the plant clos­ing. I didn’t see that com­ing. When the hous­ing mar­ket col­lapsed and GM was lay­ing off big-time, we were still stand­ing. I never would have imag­ined in a mil­lion years UTEC would close, es­pe­cially in Hunt­ing­ton, be­cause we al­ways put out good prod­ucts.

I went to work, took care of a fam­ily, and did on­line classes. It was not easy. I got an as­so­ciate’s de­gree in health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, then a bach­e­lor’s in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion with a con­cen­tra­tion in health­care ad­min­is­tra­tion.

They asked me to go to Mex­ico and train. I de­clined. They weren’t of­fer­ing any in­cen­tives for me to teach any­body to do my job. So, they brought Mex­i­can work­ers to the plant – and that was kind of a slap in our faces. But it’s not the peo­ple in Mex­ico’s fault. They’re just try­ing to sur­vive and eat too.

UTEC paid for my school­ing, I thank them for that. I thank them that I was able to pro­vide for my fam­ily, keep food on the ta­ble. But we made them mil­lions and bil­lions of dol­lars. How much more do you need? I sim­ply don’t un­der­stand it. We did ev­ery­thing we were sup­posed to do. I guess the top just wants more and more.

I tell any­body: get your ed­u­ca­tion now. Be­cause go­ing to work and tak­ing care of the fam­ily and be­ing a full-time stu­dent, I lost a lot of sleep. Get it done so you won’t have that strug­gle.

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